An individual can obtain US citizenship in one of three ways. The vast majority of American citizens obtain their US citizenship by having been born in the United States. The second group of American citizens are those people who are born abroad to at least one American citizen parent. The final group gains their USA citizenship through a process called naturalization. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants get US citizenship through naturalization each year. The highest number of newly naturalized citizens hail from Mexico, Philippines, India, China and Vietnam.
The journey to US citizenship through naturalization typically begins when a foreign national obtains lawful permanent residence (LPR) in the United States. Once they have obtained this “green card”, the immigrant has permission to live and work in the United States permanently. A green card holder could remain a permanent resident forever, provided he or she does not commit an unlawful act that would make them deportable. However, many green card holders are not content to simply live and work here; they want to become American citizens, and for good reason (see 10 Reasons to Apply for Citizenship Today!)
NATURALIZATION & CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS
In order to obtain US citizenship through naturalization, an applicant must be at least 18 and meet certain citizenship eligibility requirements such as length of permanent residence, length of time physically present in the US, good moral character, basic knowledge of the English language and basic knowledge of US civics. Spouses of US citizens can take advantage of the marriage citizenship process and could be eligible for citizenship in just three years. For help in determining if you qualify for US citizenship, read about US citizenship requirements or contact a naturalization attorney for a free consultation.
Once it has been determined that the individual meets the citizenship requirements, he or she can apply for citizenship with USCIS by submitting form N-400, US citizenship application, along with the required documentation and filing fee. However, one should take care in ensuring that they are not subject to deportation for prior immigration or criminal violations before sending anything to immigration officials. Occasionally, an individual will discover that they are deportable or no longer a permanent resident only after placing themselves on immigration’s radar. Having your citizenship application prepared by a qualified naturalization attorney can help prevent such a potentially devastating outcome and reduce delays caused by improperly or incompletely prepared packages. Read more about the naturalization process or, for a free consultation with a naturalization attorney, contact us at 800.989.6842!
Once USCIS deems the citizenship application to be complete, the applicant will be asked to submit fingerprints for a background check. Once the check has been completed, a citizenship interview will be scheduled. At the citizenship interview, the applicant will undergo a basic English and US civics exam (certain elderly or disabled applicants may be able to waive some or all of these requirements). A citizenship lawyer is permitted to attend the citizenship interview with the applicant and is often helpful in advocating for the applicant, especially when there are things in the applicant’s background that could prevent him or her from being found to possess good moral character. For more information, read our section on the US ctizenship interview.
WHY HIRE A NATURALIZATION ATTORNEY?
A naturalization attorney can assist in filing out the citizenship application forms. Failure to properly complete the application form could result in immigration officials believing that you misrepresented or lied to them. However, the naturalization application process consists of more than just filing the N400 form. Some applicants do not realize that not only do they not possess the good moral character required of naturalization & citizenship applicants but the mere act of filing the application for citizenship puts them in danger of being deported and/or losing their green card. A qualified naturalization attorney will interview her client thoroughly prior to preparation of the naturalization application package in order to minimize the chances that the client will either be found to not possess good moral character or be deemed deportable and lose their green card. Further, a naturalization attorney can accompany an applicant to his or her citizenship interview and address any issues that may arise concerning residency, physical presence, or moral character.